Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday projected India as a defence manufacturing hub of the future and said it aims to achieve a defence export target of US$ 5 billion in the next five years.
Inaugurating DefExpo, the largest-ever biennial defence exhibition hosted by India, in Lucknow, the Prime Minister emphasised the importance of India becoming self-reliant in the defence sector. “How long can the world’s second-largest population, second largest Army and the largest democracy remain dependent only on imports?” he said.
Modi cited misuse of technology, terrorism and cyber threat as challenges facing the world and said defence forces are eyeing new technology considering new threats. India is not behind others, he added.
“Our defence preparedness is not aimed at any country as India is a reliable contributor to world peace. It’s our responsibility to ensure the security of not only India but countries in the neighbourhood as well,” he said. “…along with the Indian Ocean Region, we have the responsibility to keep our interests and humanity secure in a large part of the world,” he added.
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The Prime Minister stated that those who are part of the security establishment know that India is not just a big market, but also a huge opportunity. “India has unlimited possibilities for defence manufacturing. There is talent and technology, there is innovation and infrastructure, there is favourable policy and security of foreign investment,” he said. Inviting foreign defence manufacturers to invest in India, he said India has “demand, democracy and decisiveness”.
“After Independence, we did not use our defence opportunities and abilities to its full potential,” he said. India’s strategies continue to be “focused on import”, making it the largest arms importer globally, the Prime Minister said.
“Our mantra is Make in India, for India, for the world. In 2014, the export of defence equipment from India was about Rs 2,000 crore. In the last 2 years, it has gone up to Rs 17,000 crore. In the next five years, our target is export of US$ 5 billion, which is about Rs 35,000 crore,” he said, adding that Uttar Pradesh is going to be one of the biggest defence manufacturing hubs in India.
The Prime Minister said that defence manufacturing would be boosted by the newly created Department of Military Affairs headed by the Chief of Defence Staff. The number of MSMEs in defence manufacturing, he said, should cross 15,000 in the next five years. He said there will be 200 new defence start-ups in the next five years, of which at least 50 will be to develop new technologies.
Modi said that only 217 defence licences were issued before his government came to power, but since then, this number has grown to 460. “We are building several defence equipment like artillery guns, aircraft carriers, submarines, light-combat aircraft, and combat helicopters in India today,” he said.
The Prime Minister said India has prepared a roadmap to increase the use of artificial intelligence in the defence sector. “In the next 5 years, we want to develop at least 25 products associated with artificial intelligence in the defence sector,” he said.
The Prime Minister said India is looking at a Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan to “give direction to the strategy of the development of defence technology”.
Saying that India’s interest in space is “for welfare, not warfare”, Modi said India is exploring necessary capabilities to safeguard its interests in outer space. “We are going to enhance our presence in the outer space in coming years,” he said, adding that DRDO is putting up effective protection for India’s assets in outer space created by ISRO.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath informed that 23 MoUs related to Uttar Pradesh would be signed during the event. The state will get an investment of Rs 50,000 crore and generate job opportunities for about 3 lakh people, he said.
As many as 1,028 exhibitors, including 172 from abroad, are participating in this 11th edition of DefExpo.
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